Texas A&M University-Commerce will no longer be offering the BA/BS degrees in mass media and journalism after student complaints of program inadequacy and the university’s decision to focus on new endeavors.
Phase-out steps have already begun but the decision only affects incoming students, as the degree will not be an option for those who haven’t already started classwork.
In an email to MMJ students on June 15, Dr. William Kuracina, dean of the college of humanities, social sciences, and arts explained that the program was one that has not adequately demonstrated its relevance,
In other words, a number of students didn’t feel as though the curriculum was preparing them for a career in the related fields.
The MMJ program began at the radio/television program, but when students began to complain about RTV curriculum, more journalism coursework was added to satisfy their desires.
Solutions to this problem had been a topic of discussion between the university president, provost, college dean, and MMJ students for two years before it was decided that the degree should no longer be offered.
“I met with groups of 20 or 30 students multiple times trying to figure out what could be done about the program,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs John Humphreys said.
Humphreys explained that universities close programs routinely from an academic standpoint due to low enrollment or low student interest. Additionally, the university is looking to allocate funds to new veterinary and mechanical engineering technology, cybersecurity and more in order to compete with other universities.
“I wish we had enough resources that we could go into new programs without getting rid of old ones,” Humphreys said.
MMJ was one of three programs that president Mark Rudin approved for closure out of five that were recommended by Humphreys.
Efforts were made to change the curriculum, but an operational solution was never found. Humphreys estimates that the program will continue for two to three more years until all current MMJ students have graduated and that student media (including the award-winning 100-year-old student newspaper, The East Texan) will most likely be combined with Marketing and Communication at the university.
The decision “can potentially cause people to give up on their dreams,” MMJ student Alex Wilson said. “TAMUC is one of the less expensive colleges in Texas which draws a lot of people to it.”
There are detailed procedures for every situation that could occur at the university and relocating MMJ faculty within the university is a matter of flexibility and availability. If current MMJ faculty are qualified to teach in other departments, and if there is an opportunity to do so, then it is likely that professor will remain employed.
The decision to hold over MMJ courses and offer them for other majors will be decided by the dean and other appropriate departments.